Thursday, October 1, 2015

Inspiring Ladies from History: Katie Sandwina

Ever seen Mister Rococo?

I first saw this short film ages ago, and I adored it. If you liked it as much as I did, then you should probably look into the life of Katie Sandwina.


Katie Sandwina (1884 – January 21, 1952), born Katharina Brumbach in Vienna, Austria, was a circus strongwoman.


Katie Brumbach was one of fourteen (or possibly fifteen or sixteen) children born to circus performers. She showed an aptitude and strength early on, and performed with her family. By her teenage years, Katie's father would offer one hundred German marks to any man in the audience who could defeat her in wrestling. No one succeeded, but she did meet her future husband in one such wrestling match.

After defeating famous strongman Eugene Sandow – by lifting 300 pounds over her head – Katie took on the stage name of Sandwina in reference to that. She worked in the United States with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years, until she was nearly 60. One of her standard performance feats was lifting her husband (who weighed 165 pounds) overhead with one hand.

Sandwina was also described as being a great beauty and very feminine. Even after she retired from the circus and started a family tavern with her husband, she apparently kept her nails painted.

Katie Sandwina died in 1952 from cancer.


A lot of the way that people talk about – and often think about – femininity is as exclusively “soft” or “fragile.” If we take anything away from Katie Sandwina’s life, it’s that we can be girly, beautiful, and powerful if we want to be.

And me? I love that idea.

I hope you find Katie Sandwina as interesting as I do. Because I'm a history major and a history nerd, this is something I want to do on this blog every so often. Most of the inspiring ladies I want to talk to you about are not going to be fashion icons, but they are going to be women who I find fascinating and who I take inspiration from in my understanding of the clothing I wear and the way I think about gender presentation.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of Katie before this post, she is truly inspiration not only for females but every individual. Thank you for sharing her information with us